You may be coming to the United States to see New York, but the St. Regis is a destination in itself. The most sumptuous hotel we have visited to date in the city, its beautiful Beaux-Arts interiors are a sight to behold. It's (rightly) famed for its unrivalled service and King Cole Bar (more in 'Food and Drink') as well as its beautiful, spacious and well appointed rooms, however it does lack some of the high tier amenities of its rivals, such as a swimming pool, and the views are not quite as good. That said it can boast an Alain Ducasse restaurant and original antique décor. It's true to say that some may find the hotel's opulence a little overbearing, but let's not lose sight of the fact that this is nonetheless a true masterpiece. Even if you don't have the means to stay here, come and take a look around as the property has some unique features. Couples, friends or business travellers will all find their calling at the St. Regis.
You couldn't ask for a much better location than this. Situated on West 55th Street at Fifth Avenue, you have the best of New York on your doorstep. Within just a few blocks you have Central Park, MoMA, the Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Times Square, Grand Central and great shopping and dining opportunities on Fifth and Madison Avenues, right into the Upper East Side. Getting around town is simple with several subway stations in close proximity to the hotel whose lines will take you downtown, uptown and to Brooklyn. JFK is 16 miles away, La Guardia 7 miles and Newark 16.
Wanting to emulate the grandeur of the hotels he'd seen in Europe, in 1904 Colonel John Jacob Astor built the St. Regis with the goal of creating the finest hotel in the world. He got the name from a 17th century French monk, François Regis, who was renowned for his hospitality to travellers. Much of the rich décor of the original property still remains and over the years some of the most famous names in politics and the arts have made the St. Regis, which is a landmark building, their home away from home. All guests at the hotel have access to the famous butler service whose team will go to extraordinary lengths to meet their needs.
When you have the grandest of hotels, only the grandest of entrances will do and that is exactly what you are faced with when you pull up outside the St. Regis. You can't help but get caught up in the romance of it all as you ascend the red carpet and pass through the substantial bronze doors and into the opulent lobby. The marble floors, columns and columns shine almost as brightly as the crystal chandeliers, while the stunning reception desk with gold detail is matched in its extravagance only by the professionalism of the staff behind it. For us though, the most remarkable feature of the space is the painted ceiling depicting angels playing with pink flowers. During the last renovation as many of the original features as possible were kept, such as the clock opposite the welcome desk and the intricate, eagle-topped, US Mail box. Down one of the corridors leading off the lobby is Thornwillow, a bespoke stationer and bookbinder where everything on show is for sale and where you sit at one of the tables and relax with a coffee or get on with some work away from the noisier parts of the hotel. Although there are several lifts in the lobby, beautifully embossed on the outside, for the first few floors at least, think about taking the 'million dollar staircase', which was built using $1 million dollars' worth of marble.
The hotel has a small Remède spa on the lower lobby level with a handful of rooms in which customised treatments are given. The menu of services includes massages, facials and waxing and there is also a hair salon as part of the facility. Also part of the spa is a fitness centre with top quality machines allowing for a full workout. Although there is no pool, guests at the St. Regis have free access to the pool at the Sheraton Manhattan on 52nd Street and 7th Avenue, a five minute walk away. Concierge can arrange a visit on your behalf. Other services at the hotel include a business centre, complimentary wifi and several high end boutiques.
Of the 229 rooms at the St. Regis, 164 are guestrooms while the rest are divided up into over ten different types of suite. The Edwardian-style standard rooms are a whopping 40m² placing them amongst the very biggest in the city. The king size bed, crowned with drapes, is dressed with luxury Pratesi linens and at its end is a fabric covered unit from whose interior rises the flatscreen television and DVD player upon electronic command. Either side of the bed is a bedside table, the front of which is covered with cloth and on top of which is a touch screen telephone. To one side of the room is the leather-topped writing desk with extra telephone while opposite is a drawer unit hiding the minibar. At the back of the room is a beautiful chesterfield couch and coffee table (the small bowl of chocolates is a nice touch) as well as two commodes with complimentary fruit. Other luxury features of the room include the crystal chandelier, silk covered walls and of course the unpacking/packing service. In the closet you'll find the safe, bathrobes, shoe kit and iron and ironing board. The spacious Italian marble bathrooms boast a double vanity bathtub with small monsoon shower head, scales, hairdryer, make-up mirror, Remède toiletries, telephone and small television. The other two categories of guestroom feature larger seating areas and extra office amenities such as fax and printer.
Of the suites types, which all include the legendary St. Regis butler service, there are six 'regular' types plus seven speciality suites. The first few categories of suites differ from the guest rooms in that they offer a separate living space as well as a powder room. Then there are others which as well as being even larger in size, have additional décor touches such as ornamental fireplaces. The largest of the 'regular' suites are great for longer stays in the city as they boast kitchenettes. The speciality suites include the Oriental, Christian Dior and Tiffany all of which are decorated uniquely and as the name would suggest. The three-bedroom Imperial suite boasts oval windows and views of Central Park, while the two-bedroom Royal Suite offers similar amenities only in a more traditional décor. The Presidential suite, which was specially designed by interior designer Richard Mishaan, features a wood panelled library, luxury cream, black and gold fabrics and a television embedded in the dining room mirror. For hotel's signature suite, St. Regis collaborated with Bottega Veneta to create a unique accommodation featuring a marble-floored foyer, fabrics such as Asahi book cloth and mohair velvet and hand-carved Venetian glassware as well as an art collection chosen by Tomas Maier from the Staley Wise Gallery.
In the same way as the grandeur of the entrance had to match that of the hotel, well, a great hotel restaurant calls for a great chef and at the St. Regis it is Alain Ducasse who fills that role. His restaurant, Adour, named after the river of the same name near where he grew up in Castel-Sarrazin in southwest France, serves a French cuisine in a sublime setting created by the Rockwell Group. Materials such as Makore wood, leather and silver leaf have been used in the rooms conception and features include the gold and lavender toned-mural recalling a river by Nancy Lorenz, bronze framed glass wine display and private dining room with hand blown glass spheres suspended from above. At the wine bar, a unique touch screen bar surface has been created with which diners can learn more about, and choose, their wines. Ducasse has appointed Didier Elena, who was with him at Essex House, as executive chef, and Sandro Micheli as pastry chef who together create dishes specifically with wine in mind. The current seasonal menu starts with delights such as Alaskan king crab with celery root remoulade, citrus and basil and diver scallops in the shell with cauliflower, brown butter, capers, lemon and croutons. Fish mains include baked Atlantic halibut with baby leeks, watercress, cockles and champagne sabayon while on the meat side there is milk fed veal chop with creamy parmigiano, organic polenta and sautéed scallions. Finish off with one of the mouth-watering desserts like honey-pear cosmopolitan or chestnut soufflé. There are two tasting menus available, one of which, impressively, is vegetarian. Dinner only.
Astor Court is the more traditional dining room of the hotel and serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and a Sunday brunch. The tables are laid with Porthault linens, Limoges china and Waterford crystal and an international/American menu is consumed upon them including such dishes as sheepsmilk ricotta ravioli with fava beans or buffalo steak tartare with quail eggs. On Wednesdays to Sundays there is a harpist playing in the afternoon while from Wednesday to Friday a guests can relax to the sound of the ivories in the evening.
Last but not least is the hotel's mythical bar, the King Cole, where, back in 1934, barman Fernand Petiot perfected the recipe for the Bloody Mary and renamed it the Red Snapper. Also of note is the bar's mural, painted by Maxfield Parrish in 1906 for Astor's hotel the Knickerbocker for the fee of $5,000. One of the most popular cocktails bars in the city, King Cole is open daily and a bar menu is also available.
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